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You're not getting older. You're getting cracks in your piping. From "Nuclear Energy Insight 98" (April): "Most young adults inevitably learn that there is life after 40. Moreover, upon entering their fifth decade, they often find they've reached the prime of their lives. Baltimore Gas and Electric believes the same will prove true for its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant."

Number of low- and moderate-income home buyers in the six-county Chicago area in 1990, according to the Woodstock Institute's "Reinvestment Alert" (April): 15,930 (24 percent of all home buyers). In 1996: 30,953 (29 percent).

News that didn't happen. "Yet another critical Chicago police decision has been made without community involvement," writes Rebecca Anderson in "Neighborhoods" (Spring), newsletter of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety. "A new police superintendent has been selected without a requested community forum to examine his and other candidates' views on community policing. Despite painstaking preparation by a broad-based coalition of community-policing activists, despite official praise for the questions they had prepared for candidates--the police board refused to conduct the forum. And those who planned the community sponsored forum for Feb. 12 are left to wonder about the city's commitment to community policing."

Traffic alert. According to the Chicago Area Transportation Study's "Transportation Facts" (April), "On the more heavily traveled sections" of the Stevenson Expressway, around Western Avenue, "traffic volumes are nearly constant throughout the day."

"At Amazon.com, Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy takes up as much space, and has as much exposure, as Diana: Her True Story," notes Andrew Sullivan in the New Republic (May 18). On-line bookselling, he says, "is in fact quite retro in its effects. It has the potential to encourage the purchase of books by real readers on the basis of content--a radical concept in contemporary book publishing." Big bookstores "are under acute pressure to move books quickly in order to keep a hold on the real estate," hence the pressure to sell big and sell quick. But virtual bookstores "devolve, slow down, and democratize the entire process. There's no real front window and no time limit on shelf space. The real estate is endless. So, suddenly, a book can take time to get known, be read, appreciated, and discovered." Plus you can drink your own coffee.

Pounds of earthworms per acre of farmed fields, as determined by state Natural History Survey scientists: 78. Pounds of earthworms per acre of grassy border around the fields: 2,263 ("Illinois Natural History Survey Reports," May/June).

"The upper limit of what is desirable for the size of a city," wrote E.F. Schumacher back in the 1970s, "is probably something on the order of half a million inhabitants. It is quite clear that above such a size nothing is added to the virtue of the city." This old quote just resurfaced in "The Neighborhood Works" (May/June), published by the Center for Neighborhood Technology on West North Avenue. Is the center planning a move to some more appropriately sized city--say, Rockford?

What sport was that again? According to "Fox News Online" (April 30), during the festivities in connection with the June World Cup soccer playoffs in France, five million official World Cup condoms, complete with logo, will be available for sale or distribution.

"The governor is irrelevant," proclaims the "Illinois Brief" (Spring), a publication of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois--at least as far as the abortion issue is concerned. "Historically, the General Assembly has passed legislation even over the vetoes of pro-choice governors like Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson. It is the Illinois ACLU's Reproductive Rights Project going to the federal courts that has protected the rights of Illinois women for the past 25 years."

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